The independent London newspaper

Future of Camden Lock buildings unclear in wake of market fire

Nearly 40 businesses affected, with stallholders reporting that hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of stock was ruined

17 July, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

The damage caused by a fire at Camden Lock in the early hours of Monday

THE future of part of the famous Camden Lock Market is in the balance after fire ripped through it on Sunday night. The damage caused to shops overlooking Camden Lock Place near Dingwalls is so severe that it may not be worth repairing, while owners Market Tech move forward with ready laid plans to rebuild parts of the historic Lock markets.

The fire began in a 1980s extension to the Victorian buildings where traders first started in the 1970s. More than 70 firefighters tackled the blaze through the night. At one point, flames leapt 50 metres into the sky. Nearly 40 businesses have been affected, with stallholders reporting that hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of stock was ruined as the fire gutted upper floors.

With the building already earmarked for demolition, Lock market owners Market Tech are waiting for surveyors to assess the extent of the damage – and work out whether it is economically viable to build in temporary shops or demolish what is left. The company’s overhaul, which already has planning consent, would see units in Middle Yard knocked down and replaced with a new basement and a five-storey building.

The cause of the fire is still unknown but the extent of the damage became apparent on Monday as daylight revealed a four-storey block had been completely des­troyed. Firefighters have been praised for stopping the blaze spreading further. Plans are in place to relocate businesses hit by the fire to new spots in the market, with 20 stalls who work as a collective being given the chance to trade in one place.

Other outlets on the ground floor have yet to discover if and when they can re-open as engineers say the building is currently too dangerous to enter. Market Tech has also offered businesses a rent-free period – the length has yet to be decided – and other financial help to replace lost stock.

Damaged stock piled up

A Market Tech spokesman said: “The systems in place to prevent fire spreading proved effective so the incident was relatively contained, and brought quickly under control by the emergency services. Thankfully, no one was injured. We are still assisting the London Fire Brigade in identifying the cause of the incident, and would like to thank fire firefighters.”

He added: “Stalls on Camden Lock Place, the East Yard, Middle Yard and in the Market Hall were closed on Monday as a precaution. All stalls and shops apart from those directly affected were reopened by Tuesday and we are urging visitors to support the market’s many small businesses by planning visits as they usually would.”

Flames light up night sky PIC: @CamdenJohnny

The blaze follows a series of fire incidents in and around the market over the years, with the most notable being the inferno which wrecked the canalside stalls at Hawley Wharf in 2008 and left the Hawley Arms pub closed for several months and the old Caervarvon Castle bar in need of demolition. That was blamed on a gas heater.

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